The Catholic church, which does so much good, has declared Antisemitism to be a sin, but there are some within the hierarchy who always know the source of the Church's problems: It's "the Jews." Consider the following report in The New York Times of April 3, 2010." "Last week, the center-left daily newspaper LA Republica wrote, without attribution, that certain Catholic circles believed the criticism of the church stemmed from a New York 'Jewish Lobby.'"
Ah, the power of the New York Jewish Lobby, extending to rural Ireland, southern Germany, Boulder Junction, Wisconsin and the archbishop of Canterbury!
Despite the lack of attribution in the newspaper article, the quote has credibility because it echoes statements made by a leading member of this "blame the Jews" circle as far back as May of 2002. That man is Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Meridiaga, who is the archbishop of Honduras. Cardinal Rodriguez who was in the running for Pope Benedict's job and who remains a leading candidate to replace him, is an overt anti-Semite and is not ashamed of it. For years, he has been telling anyone who is willing to listen that "the Jews" are to blame for the scandal surrounding the sexual misconduct of priests toward young parishioners!
But even for this bigot in a red hat, it must have been a stretch to blame the Jews for a world-wide problem that has plagued the Vatican for decades. Have no fear. Rodriguez has figured out a way to blame the Jews that is about as compelling as the Church's historic efforts to blame the Jews for the Black Plague, the poisoning of wells and the murder of Christian children to use their blood for Passover Matzo.
Here is his "logic." He begins by asserting that the Vatican is anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian. It follows, therefore, that "the Jews" had to get even with the Catholic Church, while at the same time deflecting attention away from Israeli injustices against the Palestinians.
The Jews managed to do this by arranging for the media which they, of course, control to give disproportionate attention to the Vatican sex scandal. Listen to Rodriguez's own words:
"It certainly makes me think that in a moment in which all the attention of the mass media was focused on the Middle East, all the many injustices done against the Palestinian people, the print media and the TV in the United States became obsessed with sexual scandals that happened 40 years ago, 30 years ago. Why? I think it's also for these motives: What is the church that has received Arafat the most times and has most often confirmed the necessity of the creation of a Palestinian state? What is the church that does not accept that Jerusalem should be the indivisible capital of the State of Israel, but that it should be the capital of the three great monotheistic religions?"
Rodriguez then goes on to compare the Jewish-controlled media with "Hitler," because they are "protagonists of what I do not hesitate to define as a persecution against the Church."
When asked whether he wanted to reconsider his attack, Rodriguez replied: "I don't repent sometimes it is necessary to shake things up."
The prime media culprit is, according to Rodriguez, The Boston Globe, which has won numerous journalistic awards for its exposure of the sex scandal and cover-up. The Globe, you see, is owned by The New York Times, which is controlled by the Sulzberger, which was once a Jewish family. Hence the Jewish conspiracy. Oh, these clever Jews!
One problem with this cockamamie theory is that the Jewish community of Boston was very close to, and admiring of, Cardinal Bernard Law, who presided over the archdiocese during the scandal. Law had built bridges between the Catholic and Jewish communities of Boston, and when the scandal was exposed by the very un-Jewish Boston Globe the Jewish community remained largely supportive of Law.
None of the leading media critics, lawyers or politicians who railed against the church was Jewish. Most were Catholic. But that didn't matter to the bigoted cardinal, who along with other classic anti-Semites believes that if there is a problem "the Jews" must be to blame for it.
As the writer James Carrol, himself a Catholic, has characterized Rodriguez's "crackpot" mindset: "When the church has a problem here is the oldest move of all blame the Jews." Nor is Rodriguez the only current cardinal afflicted with such bigotry.
Cardinal Joseph Glemp, the primate of Poland, has blamed the Jews for Polish communism, alcoholism and collaboration with Hitler. He also accused Jews of trying to kill nuns. Other high-ranking priests, especially in Central America and Poland, have leveled similar anti-Semitic accusations against the Jews and Israel.
These blood libels demonstrate that the Vatican still has a problem with Antisemitism at the top levels of its hierarchy. How can serial sinners like Cardinals Rodriguez and Glemp retain their statures as princes of the Church while preaching blood libels against the Jews?
Most recently a senior Vatican priest, speaking in the presence of the Pope, likened the criticism of the Vatican over pedophilia to "the more shameful aspects of Antisemitism. Wait a minute! Does this mean that the Jews were to blame for Antisemitism, as the Catholic church is to blame for not having done enough to prevent recurring abuses by known pedophilic priests in Ireland, Germany and the United States?
No, says Father Raniero Cantalamessa, the priest who offered the comparison. He was criticizing "the use of stereotypes, the passing from personal responsibility and guilt to a collective guilt..." Oh, now I get it: some individual Jews really were guilty of murdering Christian babies for their blood, poisoning their wells and causing the Black Plague. The problem was in "the passing from personal responsibility and guilt" for these unspeakable crimes, to "collective guilt."
It is true that there is stereotyping and anti-Catholic bigotry in some of the criticism of the Pope for conduct of which he's probably unaware. It is also true that sexual abuse by those in positions of authority is widespread in many religious and secular institutions, and the focus on the Catholic church seems unfair. But the Catholic church is the most powerful religious institution in the world, and much of the criticism comes from disappointed Catholics.
Pope Benedict is a good man who has generally continued the good work of his two predecessors toward the Jews, and has done far more than his predecessors to deal with the problem of sexual abuse. But the time has come, indeed is long overdue, for Pope Benedict to speak out forcefully and to take firm action against those who are sullying his papacy and wounding the moral authority of his Church, whether they be priests who sinned, bishops who covered up their sins or cardinals who can't see beyond "the Jews" in seeking to pinpoint blame for their sins.